Senda Litoral Route – Caminho Português – September 2022 – Day 3

Day 3! Esposende to Viana do Castelo!

Did you catch the hint near the end of the last post?

RAIN DAY!

Two days of glorious sunshine was a great start.

Took a few photos while my phone was zipped safely inside a Ziplock sandwich bag, yes I did!

It was bound to happen. 10 consecutive days in September? They’re not all going to be perfect. A little rain must fall.

Gives it a kinda fun ghostly look, don’t it? Beats a vaseline lens…
It wasn’t all rain, but the ponchos were on more than they were off. Makes for some uncomfortable walking when you need the rain gear to keep you dry, but it’s also too warm to wear it.

This was a really tough day. In fact, let’s say EXTREMELY DIFFICULT. The terrain was ever-changing and even the Camino Ninja app had a couple of places where it faltered. We went through a farmer’s field, we were walking directly on the beach, over dunes, on rocks, on sand. It was trying, to say the least. Especially since we all woke up with blisters and toenail issues. The rain did not help matters. It was the last thing our already damaged toes, heels, ankles and pads needed.

The Camino Ninja did not know what to do with the farmer’s field we found ourselves navigating in the morning, shortly after the rain ceased for a while.

After finding our way through the fields, we landed once again on the beach. Not a boardwalk in sight.

rocks, rocks, rocks…
NOTHING BUT ROCKS.
The little creatures you meet along the way. Little pilgrims! Be careful where you step.
I’m not sure which was more challenging, the rocks or the shifting sands…

Eventually, we found ourselves back on a more friendly terrain.

We decided we would smile through the photos while pretending our throbbing feet weren’t making us miserable. One, two, three…smile!

The variety of this day would probably be exciting, if not for our ailments and the on again off again rain. All along our journey, I contemplated perspective. Our moods, our pains…everything we were experiencing internally altered the way we took in the landscape around us. This was absolutely a beautiful day filled with glorious vistas. I sometimes lost sight of how gorgeous everything was. It was hard not to wallow in the pain coming from my toes and heels. It took an act of will to see beauty at times. But it was definitely a vibrant landscape day. The photos tell me this now. The trudging, at the time, made sour the walk. Perspective, perspective, perspective.

With a little shift in attitude, beauty was definitely all around us.

Not sure if this was a smile or a condemnation of the cobbles under my feet. Looks like I may have been seething, just under the surface…
There was much of this day where we struggled through dunes and dead-ends and bad directions. The Senda Litoral is definitely tricky through this stretch.

At the end of the day, it was another walk across another bridge to get us into the city at the end of our walk. Just like the day before, the bridge signified the ending.

After a super long day, we had made it to Viana do Castelo.

This would be our least favourite accommodation to date. We were lucky with our first two places. HI Viana do Castelo – Pousada de Juventude would suffice. But I wouldn’t write home about it. At the end of the day, it was a dry shelter and we were grateful. We ordered pizza through Uber-Eats, ate, and crashed.

We were three very sore and tired pilgrims, with feet in need of some TLC.

Just shy of 30km. Too many!

I’m also an author. One of my novels, a young adult story, is set on the Camino Frances route of the Camino de Santiago. THE CAMINO CLUB. It follows six teens on their journey from Ponferrada to Santiago de Compostela. The teens walk with court appointed counselors in a juvenile delinquent program that will see them free of their records once they make the journey to Santiago…a clean slate. Think of a more diverse The Breakfast Club, but on the Camino de Santiago over two weeks instead of in a school library on a Saturday. Give it a look! It’s available wherever books are sold. Here’s the Amazon USA link.

 

 

Senda Litoral Route – Caminho Português – September 2022 – Day 2

Day 2! Vila do Conde to Esposende

We all began Day 2 of our Caminho Português with foot ailments. The blisters had begun! My third Camino and my first blisters. On a route I thought would be a breeze compared to the Camino Frances. The thing is, we were walking too many KMs. 36 on our first day. The terrain might have been easier, but the grueling pace we gave ourselves proved in the end to be too much.

Minutes after leaving our albergue in Vila do Conde, we were back at the ocean’s edge.

Portugal is famous for its beautiful blue and white tile art. There was no end to examples of it along the Senda Litoral route of the Camino…

One of the things I couldn’t wait to see on this Camino route was the famous old windmills found along the beaches of Portugal. Some are small and abandoned. Others, larger and saved from extinction, have been transformed into summer cottages. Soon after leaving Vila do Conde behind us, we came upon our first windmill.

Windmill still intact.

There was a lot of boardwalk on this second day. And not that many places to stop for food and drink. We past one along the way, thinking we’d come to another soon.

If you come across this beach bar, it might be a good idea to stop. There are only two more places after this for a while. One is a few hundred feet off the path.

As we walked along the boardwalk hoping for a place to stop, we came upon a parking lot. Beyond it, there was one cafe and a small supermarcado. A few hundred feet from the boardwalk. We decided not to take any chances on coming upon something closer to the path. Good decision.

Glad we found this place on a day where places were few and far between.

After a much needed break, and some amazing fuel, we were off to return back to the endless boardwalk of Day 2.

It went on and on and on and on…
3 peregrinos!

On day 2, we have to go away from the beach for a while to walk around a rather large golf course.

The golf course that forces the Camino path away from the ocean.

Somewhere during this time, we accidentally left the Senda Litoral for a bit. The Camino Ninja was showing that our route was a couple hundred feet away and we couldn’t figure out where we went wrong. I think I narrowed it down to a house we passed after circumnavigating the golf course. There was a boardwalk going back in the direction of the ocean right before we came upon the house. It wasn’t marked, but the way beside the house was marked with yellow arrows. I think this is a place where two routes converged. We assumed we were following our route, but we accidentally crossed into another. The boardwalk would have been the Senda Litoral, I believe, but it wasn’t marked as such.

The house where, I suspect, we momentarily left our route for another one.
Right before we passed this house, we walked by a boardwalk that went in behind it…because the arrows pointed us away from it. We followed everyone else and avoided the boardwalk. The Senda Litoral route is not as well marked as the others.

Off the route, we were back onto the foot stabbing cobbles. Each step would send sharp pains into our feet. The blisters were growing and multiplying.

But we smiled anyway.

It actually didn’t take us long to get back onto the Senda Litoral. The Camino Ninja app, we were discovering, was going to save us time and time again.

A cool house that would be amazing as a tourist attraction Haunted Mansion.

We were soon back to the boardwalk and back to the windmills. This time, they were the converted cottages we had seen on YouTube.

We were close to the end of our second day. Esposende was within reach.

After walking a short bridge across, I believe, the Cávado River, we were in Esposende and on our way to the Esposende Guesthouse.

The bridge that brought us to the end of our second day.
Almost there! Thank god. Blisters, blisters, blisters.

If you end your day at Esposende, it would NOT be a bad thing to end it at the ESPOSENDE GUESTHOUSE (the link is to their website, but we booked through booking dot com). We loved this little place. Soon after check-in, the proprietress left the property and all the pilgrims were left to their own devices. We had restaurants nearby, and a little town complete with the all-important farmacia! We were ready to have all the first aid requirements of the deeply blistered pilgrim!

Fully functioning kitchen at our disposal. BUT…restaurants down the street. Easy decision for tired pilgrims.
This was definitely a super cute albergue!
The rooms were clean and we had a little balcony!
When you’re a pilgrim, a clean bathroom is everything. A good shower is everything. The Esposende Guesthouse hit all the marks!

Now, remember for a moment that I said the proprietress leaves the albergue after the pilgrims have all been checked in. Now, imagine a level of trust you’ve probably never experienced in North America kicking into action.

At the end of a long and tiring day of walking along the coast of Portugal, we settled into our evening, glass of wine in hand, and sat out on the patio of our home for the night. A beautiful evening, even though we knew the rain was coming…

A perfect way to end a magical day…

I’m not saying you should work your Camino around to land in Esposende so you can stay at the Guesthouse. But I am saying if Esposende is one of your stops, the Esposende Guesthouse is a great place to stay.

I’m also an author. One of my novels, a young adult story, is set on the Camino Frances route of the Camino de Santiago. THE CAMINO CLUB. It follows six teens on their journey from Ponferrada to Santiago de Compostela. The teens walk with court appointed counselors in a juvenile delinquent program that will see them free of their records once they make the journey to Santiago…a clean slate. Think of a more diverse The Breakfast Club, but on the Camino de Santiago over two weeks instead of in a school library on a Saturday. Give it a look! It’s available wherever books are sold. Here’s the Amazon USA link.